1. There are no knights in shining armor – unless you shine up your armor, sharpen your sword, and enter the fray and the excitement of life on your own behalf.
2. Beware of people who want to “deliver” you from inevitable hurt and the unavoidably difficult.
3. Things most difficult to achieve are usually the things most worth achieving. Begin with the toughest first. This makes all the rest feel like “down hill.”
4. Learn about “the 80/20 principle” – employing it will be helpful.
5. Quick fixes, hastily gained solutions, easy answers are often flawed, giving rise (and ironically, often quite slowly) to new, greater, and unexpected problems than the quick solution attempted to address in the first place.
6. If you get something for nothing, someone is getting nothing for something. Agree to work very hard for everything you really want. Expect nothing for nothing. Anything short of this will usually become fuel for regret. There is a lot of truth in the adage, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”
7. While this is no Smith-ism, it is worth repeating: if anything “is too good to be true” it probably is.
8. Appropriately tell everyone you know who you are, what you want, what you expect. This is called “defining yourself.” If you do not clearly define yourself, others will do it for you.
9. The hardest tasks in life are: enduringly loving an equal; rearing children; working in, or running a family business; keeping the appropriate and enduring devotion of your children; and, avoiding fast food.
10. Remember you cannot simulate adventure. It is either adventure or it is not. The closest you will come to simulating adventure is a visit to roller-coaster theme park. Embrace real risks and authentic adventures and you will live a full life. Avoid risks and adventures (in an effort to be always safe) and you will one day be saddened by what you have missed, and wonder why people avoid you at parties. While I have done no research, I am convinced there is a high correlation between being risk-avoidant and super-boring.
11. Never return evil for evil. Speak well of others, particularly those who do not speak well of you.
12. Be polite to strangers: only very few are dangerous. Your instincts, your place in a community, your group of loving friends will usually be enough to keep you safe from those who are not.
13. The only things that will disappear if you ignore them are your teeth. (I saw this on a billboard in Minneapolis). All the rest stays, awaiting your attention.
14. Adopt children, formally and informally.
15. Learn to say POTATO and TOMATO and KHAKI and BANANA and LASSO properly.
16. Help others find their own greatness.
17. Welcome ambiguity. Avoid simple answers.
18. Don’t make your friendships too complicated.
19. Beware of people who are too “shiny,” good, and nice. Often they’re not. Good people don’t work at looking good. People who are not, have to.
20. Be wary of “new” friends who instantly befriend you in a new place. They probably have hidden, often dark, motives.
21. Find a way to learn, and remember, people’s names. It will do your more good than understanding advanced algebra.
22. Have fun with your mother. Be open with her and try to tell her everything. Men and women who are open and friendly with their mothers are often much less anxious in every area of their lives than those who are combative with their mothers. The umbilical chord is infinitely elastic. You’ll trip over it for the rest of your life if you don’t take care of it early on.
23. Write your father letters he’ll treasure.
24. Phone your grandparents a lot. Tell them as much as you can about your life after you have asked them as much as you can about their lives.
25. Never suck chopsticks or walk with a toothpick sticking out your mouth.
26. Wash your hands.
27. When you wash your hands in public restrooms, on exiting, take paper towel with you to the door. With your hand wrapped in towel, open the door, then turn and toss the towel into the trash behind you when you are out of the restroom and before the door closes.
28. Travel alone overseas for at least three months. Buy your own ticket. Apart from the first night, make no advanced accommodation reservations. Many young people in other countries do this. It is called a “walk-about” year or “break” year, and it is often done the year before your first year of college or the year after your first college degree.
29. You can take a bicycle apart and put it back together again. You cannot do this with a frog. One is living (the frog) and the other is not (the bicycle). Friendships are more like frogs than bicycles. Once you rip people apart (of course I mean figuratively) it is hard to put friendships (and people) together again.
30. Be both careful and courageous with people.
31. If you observe you will see the most unhealthy (squeakiest) people usually get their way. Don’t squeak: it pulls everyone down and slows everything down. This doesn’t mean you should never complain. Just don’t whine and “squeak’ – it’s very tiresome.
32. Find out what you really want. For what are you willing to trade everything? The answer to this question is what you really want.
33. When “a door closes” sometimes you have to give up and see what other options are available. Sometimes when “a door closes” you have to go at it (metaphorically) with a sledgehammer or a chain saw or a battle ram or a U-haul truck, and force it open. Wisdom is being able to know the difference.
34. Stay out of control – the controlling behavior of others. Instead, learn to self-govern, to control yourself. Relinquish your personal government to no one.
35. Focus on your strengths and not on trying to fix your weaknesses. You will always have weaknesses (areas of lesser skill) and focusing on them will detract from developing your real talents.
36. “Too much too soon” means trouble lies ahead.
37. Don’t date people who tell you how to dress. It is the surest sign of control issues.
38. Live without TV, movies and technology for a month or two. You’ll be pleased you did.
39. Get out of (avoid) being “middle-man” as often as possible.
40. For at least one season in your life – play rugby.
41. If “top-dog” is always feeding (teaching, saving, helping) “under-dog” (receiving, being helped) a dogfight will ultimately ensue.
42. Yesterday’s unresolved issues unfailingly emerge in today’s relationships, and thus we end up fighting ancient battles with those who were not even in our lives when the conflict began.
* Of course you’ve read and heard some before – there is NOTHING new under the sun!